The Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the government Thursday demanding a judge order the feds to release documents allegedly showing the National Security Agency unlawfully surveilled Americans’ e-mails and telephone calls.
Specifically the EFF wants the government to make public a secret court ruling that found that the feds had broken a 2008 wiretapping law that was intended to legalize President George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program.
The public first learned of that ruling thanks to three damning statements U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) obtained national security clearance to make public. Wyden, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, presumably learned of the lawbreaking in briefings from the intelligence community.
The statements concerned alleged abuses of the FISA Amendments Act, a 2008 law that allows the government to conduct widespread e-mail and phone surveillance inside the United States, without probable-cause warrants, targeting people or groups “reasonably believed to be located outside the United States to acquire foreign intelligence information.” In other words, the government can collect all e-mails and phone calls from the United States to Lebanon, so long as the target is a suspected terrorist group in Lebanon. If the government collects e-mails that are sent by people believed to be American, the person’s identity is supposed to be given a pseudonym or “minimized.”